My Biggest Insecurity

Ooh, juicy Krista gossip! Things like insecurities are so interesting to other people because they’re often very private things. You usually don’t know what other people in a crowded room are worried about because you’re too focused on your own things.

My biggest insecurity is weird. When I was younger I would have answered something purely physical. These are still very valid insecurities, but thankfully I have been able to get past beating myself up for my imperfections.

Today, though, I have something new in my life — my health.

For the most part this isn’t a crippling insecurity; it’s something I only notice on rare occasions, but the more I branch out, the more it hits me that I am different now. When it comes to dating or making new friends it’s still so weird introducing myself and explaining that I have an autonomic nervous system disorder, which is why I am (insert whatever odd action I am doing to keep myself feeling well). POTS is an invisible illness, which means people can’t tell I’m sick from just looking at me, but if anyone decides to spend even a short amount of their day with me they’ll find that I do things that clearly set myself apart from the average twentysomething.

The thing I’ve been afraid about most in my dating life is that I’ll keep whoever is with me from doing fun, normal activities. I can’t travel super-easily, I don’t drink, and I sometimes have to take several days to muster up enough energy to just go out to dinner with friends. My full-time job is “getting better,” which involves going to a million different appointments every week, regular trips to the gym, resting a lot, and taking a class for my Masters to keep me sane. I try to be positive about things for the most part, but I do sometimes get worn out and frustrated with the very slow progress (Or sometimes taking a step or two in the wrong direction).

I’m not used to missing out on things I want to do. I still feel disappointed when I realize I can’t do things like go to the WMZQ fest at the last minute or when I have to watch my friends go surfing while I sit and sunbathe on the beach. If I’ve had this illness for three and a half years now and am still not used to everything I have to miss out on, how am I going to find someone who is okay with missing out on so many of the great things that life has to offer when his body works just fine and he can still enjoy the activities that I miss so much?

It breaks my heart that my mind works this way, but I’ve slowly learned that the people who are in my life don’t love me because of the activities we do together — they love me for my mind and for my heart. The people who are close to me know that I am a kind, caring, and thoughtful person, and the many different character traits that I do have to offer in a relationship. I’m a good friend, I often put other people before myself, I am genuine, and I love others deeply. These are the qualities that really matter in a relationship anyway; POTS is just something that happens to come along with the whole “Krista package” now.

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Today’s lesson: Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of our strengths, rather than honing in on the things we don’t have. The past three years I’ve realized that we don’t give other humans enough credit. There have been plenty of people who still want to be my friend or date me, despite the laundry list of things I can’t do anymore. People often do look at your heart above all else, and it has been so beautiful learning that our souls mean so much more than the physical bodies we have been given.

Hello, Goodbye… Um, Sorry For Being Awkward.

Oh. My. Gosh. I am literally the most awkward person in the world.

My best friend and I went out to dinner this past weekend and since I somehow hit the jackpot and landed a bestie who happens to be a makeup artist and insanely gifted at doing hair, she got us all dolled up for a night out in DC — which actually just involves dinner and lots of dessert. It had been a long week, so I was excited about having a fun girl’s night.

Everything started out great. We parked in my favorite garage with a really crazy attendant who sings and dances aggressively toward your car, then tries to make conversation until you finally drive into a parking space. He’s my favorite because he’s incredibly goofy and never fails to make me smile. And the parking happens to only be $4, so you really can’t beat it!

Anyway, we got to our destination and Audrey held the door open as I walked into the dark, swanky restaurant… And I immediately saw someone I had met on Tinder close to a year ago!  He was standing across the room, and my immediate reaction was to stand like a deer caught in the headlights.

After I stared him down for a good 15 seconds, he looked up. I don’t think he recognized me right away, so he kind of cocked his head as if he was thinking, “hey crazy, do I know you?”

“OH, HEY!” I yelled from across the room.

Literally right after I screamed my greeting, my mind started working and I decided it would be less awkward if we just didn’t say anything to each other since we hadn’t talked in such a long time and since he probably wouldn’t even recognize me. This was when things got really uncomfortable. For whatever reason I felt like he wouldn’t have known the “Hey” was for him, and that I could just go about my own business without acknowledging my awkward salutation. I stared a hole into the ground until I felt both his and Audrey’s inquisitive eyes on me wondering what my spastic behavior was all about.

WHAT THE HELL, POTS?! Krista. You already said “hello.” Why do you think you can just take that back and play the “We don’t know each other” card now? THINK A LITTLE, GIRL! 

“Krista?” he asked cautiously, as if I might go completely insane if he was mistaken. After all, he had never seen a human behave quite like this before. It was fascinating — the kind of interpersonal interaction that should be studied. He didn’t know what a girl like this could be capable of, as she was clearly exhibiting psychotic behavior.

“Oh, heyyyyy,” I blushed. Darn it, Krista! I thought to myself. You aren’t wearing an invisibility cloak; he can clearly see that you were the one who shouted hello! “I didn’t recognize you…” I trailed off. There was no coming back from this.

We chatted for a second or two and Audrey finally stepped in and introduced herself, glancing over to make sure I had regained at least part of my sanity as she gracefully ended the conversation. In hindsight I have no idea why I behaved so strangely. There wasn’t any bad blood with this kid; I guess it had just been awhile since I saw anyone from my online dating days and it just caught me off guard. Ever since I got POTS I haven’t been the best at thinking on my feet, and I kind of wear my feelings on my sleeve without meaning to. Luckily the rest of the night went pretty smoothly, and the parking garage attendant ended up making me feel better when we left because he is just so happy to be his goofy self. If he can be silly and not care about what others think about him, I should be able to, too!

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Today’s lesson: Just don’t pull a Krista like this. Ever. I am not someone who typically ignores people when I recognize them, and now I know why — I am clearly not good at it.

My Shade Of Blue

I have a disability.

Growing up I never would have thought I would hear those words come from my lips. I was always an exceptionally healthy individual; I exercised very regularly, ate well, and excelled academically.

Even in the very worst points of my illness I wasn’t able to comprehend that this word is attached to me now. I don’t have a normal life anymore, and I do need a lot of help with tasks that most people my age wouldn’t even think twice about because they are so mundane. I have to tell myself this over and over again to understand that asking a friend to carry a “heavy” water bottle will not make their arms hurt for days after or that having someone drive 30 minutes to see me isn’t going to bring them any sort of physical pain like driving more than 15 minutes down the road does for me. This is a difficult concept to grasp after living the way I have been for three years now.

When I first got POTS it came with an electric blue handicapped parking pass. This was to accompany me everywhere. I took it to my doctor appointments and to the gym — the only two places I could muster up enough energy to go to when I first fell ill. I was determined to get better, and although I wasn’t able to go out with friends, I would force myself to go on these necessary trips with the hope of having a normal life again one day.

My mother lovingly called my handicapped pass my “VIP pass,” but my brain couldn’t comprehend that this was something that was okay for me to use. I was so used to being able to do everything by myself and having an independent lifestyle that when my working body was torn away from me I didn’t know how to react. I felt guilty using the pass, but when I didn’t I would often feel too dizzy to walk to the back of the parking lot and someone would have to come pick me up. I had moments when I had to lie down in the middle of the parking lot so I wouldn’t pass out on the hard concrete and get sent to the hospital again because of a cracked head or something. I remember my heart freaking out on me so many times while I was merely trying to decide on something like whether I wanted to try vanilla or plain almond milk. I would lie down in the middle of the grocery aisle and put my feet on a low shelf to get the blood flowing back to my brain (Hence, the “postural” part of POTS). The girl who was literally passing out from just standing up felt like she couldn’t label herself as disabled.

A lot of this had to do with my chronic optimism and hopefulness that I would one day be better. The other half, though, had to do with the way I thought about disability. The handicapped pass says it all with the picture of a wheelchair as the symbol for the disabled. I do not look like someone who has a physical disability. I look like an average run of the mill girl you’d see on a college campus or studying at Starbucks. If anything I actually look like an athlete, as I am tall, thin, and wear my sneakers almost everywhere I go (They’re a lot easier on my knees than any of the cute boots or heels I loved wearing just a few years ago). I do not look sick. You absolutely cannot see my pain; even doctors have to feel different parts of my body or rely on complicated tests to see that I’m not just an average twentysomething.

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I’m always surprised when people tell me they’re “glad I’m feeling better” when they see pictures from photoshoots or nights out with my friends. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but without the context behind the photo it’s impossible to get an accurate story. The story behind this photo that my friend Audrey took would be about how blessed I felt to have a “good day.” It would include that I had a hard time turning my neck for some of the photos, and trying to overlook the sharp pain in my arms and shoulders so that I could have a fun day with my best friend. Despite some pain and difficulties, this is an overall happy photo for me to look back at.

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This photo tells a different story. It was taken two years ago by my cousin Kristin. A bunch of my relatives were visiting for Thanksgiving and since Kristin is a photographer, we decided to take a few family photos outside. I was freezing and wore a giant puffy coat until we got to the bridge across the street from my house. My head was spinning, so after a few shots I shivered all the way home where I promptly went to my room to take a nap in hopes of sleeping off some of my POTS symptoms. I didn’t get to help make the dessert — one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities — and I missed out on a lot of quality family time because I wasn’t feeling well enough to sit around and visit with everyone. I stayed in my room much of the visit, sleeping or watching Netflix, as there wasn’t a comfortable place for me to sit in the living room with my family. Even sitting up can be exhausting with POTS, as the blood rushes away from my brain and makes me dizzy.

I still don’t think of myself as being very different than anyone else. I have been sick for so long now part of me feels like my life has always been like this. I don’t really remember what it’s like being able to go to a store by myself without planning where I can get water with electrolytes, as I cannot carry my own water bottle for more than a few minutes at a time. Sometimes I feel like the rest of my life was a beautiful dream; I remember so many of the good parts of not being sick that I almost glorify regular life now. I think back to being able to go clubbing with friends and feeling carefree rushing around the streets of New York City. I remember how amazing running felt and miss the burning in my lungs from training out in the cold, crisp fall weather.

I remember how life was before I got sick and sometimes wish I could go back and fully enjoy the time I had. I wasted so much time worrying about the future and my plans that I didn’t even realize that whether or not I like it, I might not be in control of my own life — at least to an extent. I can’t work, and I act like going to doctor appointments as often as a full time job is a normal thing. All of my college dreams were shattered the day I got sick. I still do dream of being better one day and being able to write for a living. I want to be independent again one day, and I would love to be able to train for even just a 5K.

You can’t see my disability, but it’s there every minute of every day. Having POTS has been a great lesson to me that just because someone looks healthy or looks happy doesn’t mean that they are. Looks can be deceiving. You never really know a person until you hear their story.

Symptoms Of A Deployment

Anyone who has been close to someone who is deployed understands the great sacrifice the entire family and loved ones are making along with their soldier. I can confidently say that I am not going to take time for granted the way I have with people in the past. I think everyone knows someone who is either deployed or close to a soldier, so I wanted to write something about the way it feels to have a significant other serving overseas.

Here are the symptoms that come along with a deployment:

Anxiousness: Getting a phone call from a random number doesn’t mean the same thing it did before your soldier went overseas. You hope it’s him calling from one of the phones in the barracks, but there’s always a fear in the back of your mind that it’s a stranger calling with bad news.

Irregular Heartbeat: Anytime you hear of something terrible that happened to soldiers in the area of the world where yours is your heart stops and sinks. When you find out it wasn’t him you feel an immediate sense of relief, followed by an intense sorrow for the loved ones who do have to deal with a sickening loss. You hurt for them. Then you pray for them. This thing that had a small impact on you has changed the lives of so many other people forever; losing a loved one too soon is a terrible tragedy that seems to be one thing that the heart can’t fully heal from.

Nausea: When you think about the conditions your soldier is working in, it makes you feel sick. The hatred toward Americans where he is serving is unreal, and you feel anxious knowing there’s a target on the one person you’d do anything to protects back. I don’t know that I would take a bullet for many people, but I would for him.

Sleeplessness: More nights than not you lie awake thinking about the person who is holding your heart halfway around the world. You worry and pray that God will keep them safe. Nighttime is the hardest part of a deployment. It seems so much longer than the bright daytime where you have dozens of distractions. The darkness is deeper than you remembered it being last year, and you feel alone in your big, cold queen size bed.

A New Sense of Patriotism: Your guy is fighting for our freedom. I have not proclaimed my love for this beautiful country nearly as much as I have this past year. The sacrifices thousands of people are making for me and my fellow US citizens are incredible. Soldiers endure terrifying, uncomfortable, and difficult conditions every single day for 9+ months to make sure we can keep the freedoms we have here in the United States.

Don’t you dare say that you hate this country if you live here; you have no right when there are people who are actually dying for it and for the freedoms we take for granted every single day. If you don’t love America there is no reason you need to stay here.

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Photo credit to my new Instagram friend clarkayyyy!

If you told me I could have one wish granted today it would be that I would have my soldier home and in my arms again. I wouldn’t trade that for all the riches in the world. Having that sense security in my relationship again is going to mean the world to me, and I absolutely can’t wait.

God. Bless. America.

No, You’re Schmoopie!

Sometimes I feel like I’m pulling a “Schmoopie” when I write about my dating life

Sadly I have realized not everyone in my generation has seen Seinfeld, so here’s a clip if you have no clue what I’m talking about:

It definitely takes a lot for me to share such intimate parts of my life on this blog sometimes. I know I’m taking a risk at putting my heart on my sleeve in front of all my friends (including my new blogger friends!), and I know not all of my relationships — romantic or otherwise — that I write about will last. I do, however, always want my blog to be an honest account of my life. I want to be transparent with y’all through the bad times and through the good, which just happens to be the beginning honeymoon phase of a new relationship, the comfortable parts of a longer-term relationship, and the vulnerable parts about putting your heart in the hands of another human being.

I love love in every form, whether it’s in a friendship or a romantic relationship. As I have mentioned before, I think I’m one of the few people who gets giddy with excitement when I see even a distant Facebook friend get engaged or have a sappy status. I love seeing new jobs, dreams come true, and celebrating in the victories of friends — no matter how great or small.

Sometimes it gets a little annoying when people proclaim their love to one another constantly on Facebook — can you not say “I love you” via text? For the most part, though, I hope my friends will keep posting a million wedding pictures and sharing in their excitement with me and everyone else. After all, that is by far the best part about social media, and the more love we put out in the world the less room we have for hate. That is the best lesson we can learn, especially during this crazy time in America where the country — and even Facebook — feels so divided and confused.

So I would like to encourage you to keep sharing photos of your GNOs, engagement photoshoots, and selfies that make you feel fierce. If people don’t like seeing the happy parts of your life, the “unfollow” button is really easy to find. Spread happiness, joy, and beautiful friendships on social media, even if they don’t rack up as many “likes” as you’d want… After all, your social media pages are yours for a reason!

Today’s lesson: I have found that being open and vulnerable has enriched my life in so many ways. Not only do I have so many friends to share excitement with, but I also have an army of support when life gets tough, and have been able to learn from people who have very different lives than my own. So here’s to being authentic and spreading love and positivity in the world.

The Single Best Dating Tip For Girls

Keep your friends close.

I bet y’all never saw that one coming. I know, I know — it doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with dating, but let me elaborate.

Time and time again people get a new significant other and go into the vicious cycle of getting starry eyes that are only for their SO, set into reality, realize they do, in fact, need friends, and trying in a half ditch effort to have fun with other girls again.

There are a few solid reasons I strongly believe in staying close in your friendships, rather than dropping them only to pick up again when it becomes convenient.

First, trust is a key component in any relationship, even with friends. By remaining close when you get a new boyfriend you are showing her that you’ll be there for her through thick and thin — and in turn, she’ll be there for you when you need someone as well!

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Second, if you think about it realistically I hate to burst your bubble, but many relationships in your teens or early twenties don’t work out for the long run. I know, I know, there are plenty of high school sweethearts. When you look at the numbers, though, more people go through breakups than marry their first love, so the odds are not ever in your favor. They could be with a friend, though! There isn’t a limit to the number of friends you are allowed to have, even if there is a cap at “1” for a boyfriend. Don’t throw away something beautiful like a forever friend for a boyfriend who may or may not be there for you in the long run.

Third, girl time is sacred! There are certain things you just can’t have as much fun doing with your boyfriend… Some of those include shopping for the perfect cocktail dress, getting mani pedis, helping your girl swipe through her Bumble account, and gushing about how cute your boyfriend is. Let’s be real, we love our guys, but they can only take so many compliments before getting a big head about it! 😛

I can think of a hundred reasons I need my girl friends no matter what season of life I am in. The friendships I have mean the world to me, and I would never give up any of them just to get a guy. An added bonus to this is that your guy will love that you are independent and have your own things going on. It’s so healthy to stay balanced and have some activities separate from your man… After all, your crazy adventures apart will make for some great date conversations.

Today’s lesson: When my ex of 5 years and I broke up I was SO relieved that I hadn’t given up my friends for a romantic relationship. From day one of us dating I made the decision to have a great relationship in addition to the other relationships in my life, rather than in place of my friendships. Although many of my friends thought my ex and I were going to last, we didn’t — but my friendships did, and I was so thankful for every single girl who helped me get through my first bad breakup. It would have been so much harder being by myself and having to rebuild my relationships again… Plus in those 5 years I was still able to cherish so many great memories with friends that my ex was not involved in! Instead of only remembering him when I look back on my college years I have a million other wonderful memories too — many of which are shared with some of my current best friends.

Tips For Men: Better Dating Conversations

I reached out to my good friend Will to do a blog post for me since he’s someone who is super-confident in the dating world, and though his advice always has a little dose of silliness, it’s usually spot-on.

Without further ado, here are his tips on how to carry a great conversation on a date:

  • Wing It: Some guys like to meticulously plan out every question and topic they want to bring up. Please learn how to have a fluid conversation without doing this. Women do not want a robot, they want a human being. Plus, it will save some awkwardness from pulling out the list of topics you have in your back pocket when you get stuck.
  • Be Nice, But Not “Fake Nice”: Being respectful is always important, but do not be so nice to the point that it doesn’t seem genuine. When someone tries too hard, it’s obvious they only have one goal in mind, and women aren’t stupid… Krista’s readers are intelligent, so you fellas are looking for someone with brains too (Not in a zombie sort of way, even with Halloween coming up and all).
  • Utilize Your Intelligence: This article is discussing what to do when dating quality women, so onward to the next tip — intelligent conversation. Women love to talk, so when they’re talking about themselves ask questions that you’re naturally curious about. For example, if she’s not from around here, ask her about her hometown and how different the culture is there.
  • Bond Over Hobbies: The best way to keep a conversation going is to talk about hobbies. On the first date, ask her what she likes to do and if you have some things in common, talk about that. Easy money! A good partner is someone you can do fun things with, so finding her interests early is awesome. For example, I’m a huge fan of basketball, so it would be advantageous to me to meet a lady who also knows that ball is life, since women that don’t know will never completely understand.

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  • Have A Sense of Humor: This is my bread and butter, my meal ticket. Women love a guy who has humor and wit. As a matter of fact, if you make a girl laugh frequently and you do not screw up too bad, you’ll most likely have a second date. I’ll bet $100 on it. Just don’t be too crude (my Achilles heel sometimes). If you want more detail on how I include humor on a date, pick up my new book Making Her Fall Head Over Heels… With Laughter. The book signing is actually next Thursday.
  • Be Confident, Not Cocky: Confidence is knowing you have the ability to do something without having to brag about it. Whenever someone says they are really good at something, I automatically question their claim. For example, if I titled this article “Reasons Will is the Most Charming Person on the Planet,” you, as the reader, will nitpick anything that can be interpreted otherwise just to disprove my point. Your date will do the same thing. I better take my own advice; my dates won’t know about my book.

Today’s lesson (Courtesy of Will): To sum it all up, just be authentic and have fun. Keep trying; a failed date is never a bad thing and honestly will likely happen more often than a successful one. Just learn from your mistakes (and victories!) and you will be a force to be reckoned with. Relax, bro!

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